Because the savings with solar are best expressed as a percentage of what the homeowner was paying with the utility, those with high utility bills will save more money by going solar than those with low utility bills. Homeowners with average electricity bills of $100 or more per month (averaged over 12 months) are great candidates for saving money by going solar. Homeowners with average electricity bills of less than $100 per month will save money by going solar, but the savings may not be enough to justify the purchase. There are other benefits to going solar besides cost savings, such as benefits to the environment, that may compel homeowners with low utility bills to go solar anyways.
Whether solar panels are worth it for you depends on several factors:
- Did you get a good deal on your solar system?
- How does your utility company interact with solar?
- How much electricity do you use in your home?
- How high are your electricity bills?
- What solar company are you going with?
Sometimes, especially with homes that are two stories or more, roof space becomes a concern when looking into solar. Homes with two stories or more typically have the same roof space as a single story, but more people are living there and more space must be cooled by the air conditioner in the summer, which results in more energy usage.
Each solar panel generates a certain amount of energy, and if the roof space isn’t big enough to match the home’s energy usage to the solar generation of electricity, this can be a concern. The good news is that home’s with high energy usage will typically see a cost savings by putting any number of solar panels on the roof, even if that number of panels produces below the “optimal” level of electricity. We also have upgraded solar panels that produce more energy (watts) per panel but take up the same amount of space, and we use these upgraded panels when roof space is a concern to match the energy generation to the home’s usage.
Solar panels receive sunlight and then convert it into DC current. The solar inverters then convert the DC current into AC current for your home to use. Your electrical box distributes power from the solar system to your appliances. If you have a solar battery, excess electricity not used by your home will be stored on it. Any excess electricity not used in your home or stored in a battery will be exported to the utility grid.
See our page on How Do House Solar Panels Work for more detailed information.
To get your average usage, add up your last 12 months usage and divide by 12.
Solar energy is a renewable resource that can be used to generate electricity or heat. Solar panels, also called photovoltaics, convert sunlight into electricity.
See our page on How Do House Solar Panels Work for more detailed information.
Modern solar panels have efficiency ratings of 15% to 22%. This means they can convert 15% to 22% of sunlight into usable energy. The factors involved in efficiency are:
- The quality and efficiency rating of the solar panels used;
- Orientation towards the sun, typically determined by which roof plane they are installed on; and
- Weather conditions in the area and climate.
We provide 25-year end-to-end warranties on your entire system when it is installed, but the solar systems typically last much longer than the 25-year period. Just because the manufacturer’s warranty on your car ends after four (4) years does not mean your car will stop working then. The same is true for solar panel systems.
The amount of solar panels you need depends on several factors:
- Your goals with solar power;
- Amount of electricity in kilowatt-hours (kWh) used at your home in the last 12 months;
- Physical dimensions, wattage, and efficiency of the panels used;
- Amount of roof space you have available (or land available for a ground mount);
- How your electric utility interacts with residential solar systems;
- Whether you will install a grid-tied system or an off-grid system; and
- The climate and amount of sunlight in your area.
See our page on How Many Solar Panels Do I Need in Arizona? for more information.
Solar systems produce about 1,750 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year per kilowatt (kW) rating of the system. The typical system is around 7 kW, so that system will produce about 12,250 kWhs per year. Production also depends on what components are used in the system and the orientation of the roof to the sun.
Formula for Calculating Watts Into Kilowatt-Hours: kWh = (Watts × Hours) ÷ 1,000
Cleaning solar panels is a four step process:
- Use a soft brush to remove dust and other objects;
- Use a hose to wash the solar panels with water;
- For the areas the hose did not clean, scrub with a soft brush and water.
- Monitor your home’s solar output with your monitoring app to see if your cleaning increased production.
Cleaning your own solar panels is tedious and can be dangerous on your roof. Instead, leave it up to the professionals at Phoenix Solar Panel Systems. Schedule your free consultation now or call us at (602) 753-0560!
Multiply the kW system size by 1,000 and then divide by the wattage of panels being used. So for a 9.25 kW system using 370 watt panels, the formula would be:
kW Solar System Size to Amount of Solar Panels: 9.25 kW × 1,000 ÷ 370 = 25 Panels
1 kWh equals one hour of electricity usage at a rate of 1 kW, and thus the 2 kW appliance would consume 2 kWh in one hour, or 1 kWh in half an hour. The equation is simply kW × time = kWh.
Production estimates for solar panel systems are typically done with the following calculations. For a 10 kW system, multiple the system size (10) by the derate factor of 0.8, then multiply by 5 hours of ideal sunlight per day, then multiply by 365 days per year. This is:
Yearly kWh Production: 10 kW × 0.8 Derate × 5 Hours × 365 Days = 14,600 kWh Production Per Year.
kW to Watts: Watts ÷ 1,000 = kW
To find out the size of a solar system from the amount of kWh needed or produced, do the reverse calculation of kW to kWh above:
Solar System Size: 14,600 kWh ÷ 365 Days ÷ 5 Hours ÷ 0.8 Derate = 10 kW
Formula for Calculating kWH to Watts: Watts = (kWh ÷ Hours) × 1,000
Watts to kW: kW × 1000 = Watts
A project to install a complete solar system on a home is a large endeavor that, when professionally managed, involves many experts from different fields. The salesperson will know what type of system is appropriate for your home based on years of experience. The draftsman knows how to create a professional design for the solar system. The engineers understand city construction codes and the other legal implications of installation.
There are people employed at solar companies whose entire job is to submit permit application packages to the various cities in the Phoenix area, and they have been doing it for years, as this is not a simple process to learn. Other administrative workers submit applications to the local utility companies.
After permit approval, a host of professional engineers, contractors, and administrative workers are involved in ensuring the solar system is installed safely and professionally on the home, and then guaranteeing the system is interconnected to the utility and working properly. A solar system installed improperly poses a serious safety and fire hazard, not only to the home it is attached to, but to all the neighbors in the area. This is why Arizona law mandates that the city and utility approve every solar panel installation before it is turned on.
In summary, the process to install a solar panel system is very complex and there is no manual or internet website that will take a homeowner through all the steps in detail. A homeowner may be able to figure everything out and install it over a period of many years, but at that point the homeowner will have spent far more money and time than they would have if they hired a professional company to install their solar system. Just like any large home improvement project, it is best to leave it to the professionals that have many years of experience.
The great thing about going solar with Phoenix Solar Panel Systems is that we take care of EVERYTHING for you. How much time you spend is really up to you. We are happy to spend many hours at your home, and on the phone, answering your questions. We are always available to you when you have a question or concern.
If you don’t wish to ask any questions, all we need is about a half-an-hour of your time to present the cost savings to you and sign the documents related to the sale of your solar system. After you sign, we literally handle every aspect of installing and turning on your solar system, and no more of your time is needed. In fact, you don’t even need to be at your home for the site inspection or installation of your solar system if you don’t want to be!
The reality is that EVERYONE has the time to go solar because so little time is needed from our customers to complete the entire buying process.
I don’t like how the solar panels look on my roof. Can you do ground mounting or put the solar panels anywhere else?
Most people that initially have reservations about the aesthetics of solar panels on their roof decide that the cost savings outweigh the perceived “bad look”. Many customers enjoy the look of solar panels on their home, as it provides the home with a modern, updated look. We use the most modern and aesthetically pleasing panels available on the market today. In many cases, based on the orientation of the home, the solar panels cannot even be seen from the front of the home or the street. Typically, the solar panels cannot be seen on homes that are two stories or more.
Some customers decide to build or purchase a structure, such as a metal car covering or storage container, to place their solar system on. Solar panels can be installed on many different types of structures, as long as the structure can hold the weight of the solar panels. Mounting the solar panels on the ground is an option, however there are extra costs involved.
I met with solar companies in the past and they couldn’t save me money. Can solar panels save me money?
The residential solar industry is always changing. For example, loan interest rates before COVID were always 3.99% and above. When COVID came in 2020, solar loan interest rates dropped to 0.49%! As time goes on, the materials used in solar systems continue to drop in price, which translates to lower prices for homeowners.
Government and utility incentives for going solar are always changing. For example, the Federal Government’s solar tax credit was supposed to drop to 22% in 2022 and then disappear in 2023. However, the tax credit was increased to 30% and extended to 2034 through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.
Pricing will vary between solar companies, and this depends on many factors. Phoenix Solar Panel Systems is known for their affordable pricing and it is likely they can beat the last quote you received from a competitor.
Solar energy is a renewable source of energy that can be used to power homes and businesses. Solar panels collect and convert sunlight into electricity, making it a clean and sustainable way to generate energy.
On-peak utility hours are the times of day when electricity demand is at its highest. In most cases, this means during the daytime when people are using lots of appliances and air conditioners. As a result, utilities charge more for electricity during on-peak hours in order to cover the increased demand. If you’re trying to save money on your electric bill, one of the best things you can do is avoid using electricity during on-peak hours. This may mean turning off your air conditioner during the day or doing laundry at night.
Electric utilities typically charge different amounts depending on what season of the year it is. The utilities define the seasons by a period of months. See below for how the utilities in the Phoenix, AZ area define the seasons for billing purposes:
APS defines Winter as November through April and Summer as May through October.
SRP defines Winter as November through April, Summer as May, June, September, October, and Summer Peak as July and August.
Solar panels are made of many different materials, including silicon, cadmium telluride, and copper indium selenide.
During your solar consultation, our representative will analyze your current electricity usage from your most recent utility bill, so please have that ready at the time of your consultation. With that usage information, the representative will custom build a solar system on your home using advanced software. Then, they will let you know how much money you can save by going solar.
You will have the opportunity to ask any questions you like during this meeting. Consultations typically last between 30 minutes to an hour-and-a-half depending on how many questions you have.
If you plan on being in the home for another year or more, you will still see a lot of savings from going solar. Our customers typically save $500 to $2,000 on their energy costs in the first year after going solar. How much money you save in the first year depends on many different factors including the size of your home, your family’s energy use habits, and the utility solar price plan you choose. Those with high utility bills will save more money by going solar than those with low utility bills, but the percentage of savings is typically the same across the board.
If you plan on moving out of your home, but keeping the home as a rental property, going solar will increase the value of your home and the low utility costs will be an attractive incentive for renters. If you plan on selling the home within six months, purchasing a solar system is probably not right for you, as you will not see much benefit in the short time you will remain in the home.
See our page on selling your home with solar panels for more information.
This is a charge that electric utilities include in some of their rate plans. Typically, the utility measures the average demand of a home over a one hour or 30 minute period, and then charges the customer a multiplier of that demand.
For example, if a customer averages 8 kW of demand over the period measured, and the demand charge is $15 per kW, the customer will receive a $120 demand charge on their bill that month.
A grid fee, also known as a monthly service charge, is the amount of money a utility company charges per month to be connected to their grid when you have a grid tied solar system.
For SRP grid fees, see SRP Rate Plans (After Solar).
The buy back rate is the rate at which the utility company credits customers per kilowatt-hour (kWh) for sending electricity from their home solar panel system to the utility grid. The utility installs a second meter at every home that goes solar in order to measure the amount of electricity sent to to the utility grid. Customers receive a credit on their utility bill each month for the amount of kilowatt-hours they sent to the grid that month.
A watt is a unit of electricity that measures energy transfer. It was named after the engineer James Watt.
AC current is an electric current that alternates in direction. It is caused by the back and forth movement of electrons in a conductor.
The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) is a state agency that regulates investor-owned electric and gas utilities in Arizona. The ACC also regulates water and wastewater utilities, telephone companies, transportation companies, and securities broker-dealers. The five Commissioners are elected by the voters of Arizona to serve four-year terms.
APS is an electric utility company that covers part of the Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan area and other parts of Arizona.
See our web pages on APS:
DC current is the flow of electrons in one direction through a conductor. It is the most common form of current used in electronics.
A demand manager, also known as a load controller, is a device that is often installed with a home solar panel system. This device limits the total “demand” a house can use. Demand is the amount of electricity in kilowatts (kW) that the house is using at any given time. This is not to be confused with kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is the measure of how much electricity is used over time.
The more appliances that are run together, the larger the demand is. In the Phoenix, AZ area, the appliance that uses the most demand is the air conditioner. An air conditioner can use between 1 kW and 5 kW in demand, depending how big and efficient it is. Other appliances in the home use demand as well, but typically less than the air conditioner.
The demand manager has a demand limit setting, and the circuits of the large appliances in the home are hooked up to the device. Say, for example, the air conditioner uses just under 4 kW and the demand limit setting is at 4 kW. If someone in the home turns on the electric dryer, the demand manager will cycle the air conditioner off. This is how the demand manager stops the home from going over a certain demand. The device does not stop people from using the large appliances, it just turns off other large appliances to keep the demand low.
Electrical Demand is the amount of electricity in kilowatts (kW) that the house is using simultaneously at any given time. The more appliances that are run together, the larger the demand is.
For example, the average air conditioner uses 4 kW of demand and the average clothes dryer uses 3.5 kW of demand. When the air conditioner and clothes dryer are run simultaneously in a home, the demand of the home will be 7.5 kW.
A kilowatt of electricity is the common measurement for electrical energy. All of the appliances and electronics in your home consume energy measured in kilowatts. A kilowatt is 1,000 watts. Kilowatts are used for measuring electricity because the amount of electricity that appliances consume. For example, an air conditioning unit uses about 4 kW. Stating 4 kW is easier when compared to stating 4,000 watts.
A kilowatt-hour (kWh) is a unit of energy: one kilowatt of power for one hour. Kilowatt-hours are a common billing unit for electrical energy delivered to consumers by electric utilities. The kilowatt-hour is a composite unit of energy equal to one kilowatt (kW) sustained for (multiplied by) one hour.
Net metering is a system where excess electricity produced by a solar panel system is sent to the utility grid. The utility company credits the customer for every kWh sent to the grid. The customer only has to pay for the difference between the amount of electricity bought from the grid and the amount of electricity sent to the grid. If the customer sent more electricity to the grid than what was bought, the utility pays the customer per kWh based on the utility’s buyback rate.
Off-Peak utility hours are times of day when electricity demand is lower. This is typically on the weekends and in the mornings during the weekdays. As a result, utilities charge less during Off-Peak hours. If you’re trying to save money on your electric bill, one of the best things you can do is use your large appliances, like your air conditioner and clothes dryer, only during Off-Peak hours.
SRP is an electric utility company that covers part of the Phoenix, Arizona Metropolitan area.
See our web pages on SRP:
Solar energy is the energy that is in sunlight. It is a renewable energy source that can be used to heat, cool, and power homes and businesses.
See our page on How Do House Solar Panels Work for more detailed information.
Offset is the percentage of your home’s total electricity usage from the last year that will be produced by your solar system over a year’s time. See below for the recommended offsets in the Phoenix, AZ area:
In APS territory, you typically want 100% to 110% offset.
In SRP territory you typically want 50% to 75% offset.
From September 1, 2022 through August 31, 2023, the APS solar buyback rate is 8.465 cents per kWh.
The reason why so many people in the Phoenix area have already gone solar is because they save money on their electricity. Every customer of Phoenix Solar Panel Systems has the capability of saving AT LEAST 20% on their monthly energy costs by going solar. Some customers have saved up to 85% per month!
Most solar customers take out a special solar loan to finance their solar system. These loans have incredibly low interest rates, are partially subsidized by the government, and are spread out over long terms to make the monthly payments low and affordable. The total amount of the solar loan may be perceived by some as “a lot of money”. However, the loan amount pales in comparison to how much money the homeowner will pay if they don’t go solar and stay with APS or SRP as their sole source of electricity. Customers that go solar have the capability of saving between $50,000 to $200,000 over a 20-year period when compared with buying electricity from the utility company alone without a solar system.
Once you have decided to go solar and signed the paperwork, the solar installation process begins. This process typically takes around one to three months, but it may take longer depending on how fast your city approves permits.
- Site Survey : We come to your home to verify the planned solar system design. We will check your roof, attic, and potential placement locations of the solar system components. If any repairs or updates are needed before installation, you will be notified. Most of our customers cover the costs of any repairs or updates by adding the additional amount into their existing solar loan. You typically do not need to be home for the site survey, unless you want to be.
- System Design Approval : You will have the opportunity to approve the solar system design at your home. If any changes were made from the original design, you will review the changes and approve them, or request additional changes.
- Permit Approval : We will send the permit application and final designs to the city and wait for their approval.
- Installation : Installation typically takes between one to three days, depending on your solar system size. You typically do not need to be home for the installation, unless you want to be.
- Final City Inspection : The city inspector comes to your home to check for code adherence and design accuracy.
- Utility Interconnection : The utility company representative will inspect the installation and approve it. After receiving Permission to Operate (PTO), the switch is flipped and you are using clean power!
The Arizona Renewable Energy Standard & Tariff (REST) requires electric utilities to gradually increase their use of renewable energy sources. By 2025, Arizona’s regulated electric utilities must generate 15 percent from renewable resources. Each year, utility companies must submit annual implementation plans to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) that show how they will meet the state’s Renewable Energy Standard & Tariff (REST) rules.
As of November 2022, the SRP solar buyback rate is 2.81 cents per kWh.
At this point, the solar panels are as thin as they can possibly get, and they are mounted as low on the roof as possible. The only direction technology is going with solar systems is that more electricity production capability is being put into each panel. However, the new panels with more production capability cost much more than the older panels with less production capability, and therefore solar companies rarely use the latest and greatest panels.
The only benefit you will have by waiting for technology to advance is that in the future you will need 18 panels on your roof instead of 20 panels. The cost savings for buying two less panels will pale in comparison to the cost savings you will enjoy by going solar now and ceasing the purchase of 100% of your energy from the utility. Going solar now is the right decision because the rate at which the utilities buy solar energy from homeowners continues to drop every year. Homeowners must act now to lock in their buy back rate!